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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 19, 2013 4:00pm-4:45pm EST

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>> outlets paul dickson, author of "words from the white house." for more information, visit his website at paul dickson >> here is a look at some upcoming events. february 14 through the 17th is the savanna book festival in georgia. evan thomas, isabel wilkerson, deberry and many more will speak at its annual festival. watch booktv tori live coverage. during the second week of march, booktv will be live from the tucson festival of books in arizona. overall authors featured are you certain iversen.
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also in march, the virginia us rulebooks it features several authors as well. ..
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does the for more on the television schedule. >> military historian patrick o'donnell recounts the u.s. army at second ranger battalion d co. a.k.a. "dog company". the group was composed of 68 men whose military campaigns during world war ii included landing on the beaches of normandy and the s and to pointe du hoc.
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it is about 40 minutes and starts right now on booktv. >> it is great to see so many friends here. this is a situation where things of come full cycle, but today is the anniversary of the battle of volusia --fallujah where i was embedded as a combat historian. we went through an aid station that was an al qaeda aid station. there was blood on the floor, cots, quite a situation that was interesting. i will never forget i look on the side of the wall and the light had changed. there was obviously a person who was running next to me on the other side of the wall. i had this sense of foreboding. seconds later, a marine was killed along with a member of the iraqi forces that were
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accompanying us. it was a very poignant moment. the battalion commander was next to me and five minute before that said who are you? i am combat historian here to gather your story. and interestingly enough, a colonel in the battalion said my father in law was a loop pilot in world war ii on the eastern front. had this immediate reports and within five minutes they were engaged in combat. what was so striking and interesting, this young marine was killed, he got up and said i want to see a symphony of fire. according to general pattern that they and everyone of us including me, was on with an
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m-16 because i wanted to survive that they fired down the block and suppressed those people. several years later we came back and i was given the honor of taking the fifth marines which he lead at that time to normandy and we toward the normandy battlefields with the men i was in volusia -- fallujah with and we went to pointe du hoc which is the subject of this book "dog company" which i am going to talk about. it was called we were one which is the battle of fallujah. when we pointe du hoc on those windswept beaches on that peninsula it was a magical moment, people i've fought with in fallujah and we went back in time to world war ii. let me take you back in time to
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june 6, 1944. six:00 a.m. force a, the most second ranger battalion, the most important objective of d-day, pointe du hoc, pointe du hoc had six guns that could reach omaha and utah beach as well as naval ships in the english channel. everything was done to neutralize the guns, several thousand men as far as rangers that were assigned to that objective and sent nearly a dozen aerial bombardments, a thousand dollars, hundred tons of ordnance was dropped pointe du hoc and served in to the services, and the book i talk about today, dog co. two men
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accomplished the mission of a thousand men and a thousand bombers, an incredible story. at 6:00 a.m. headed towards pointe du hoc, what is very interesting in a suspicious chain of events changed the course of history. with the ray are in the royal navy lt. guiding, was a ray. was headed for the wrong objective. and time for the rangers and was a clip on the other side of omaha beach. they were not going to pointe du hoc. all the landing craft for headed in the wrong direction, at the time they were supposed to land at 6:30 a.m. the air force bombed pointe du hoc, if the rangers had landed at the time
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they were allocated, they were all have been killed by their own bombers, at the wrong that and the going to point to place. the official assigned to pointe du hoc because of the mission to a thousand men, could not get in contact with the second ranger battalion at that time. everyone of the radios didn't work. they went to their secondary objective and landed on omaha beach at exactly the right time and place they were supposed to. they were the only reserve force at the time. meanwhile, force a which was the second ranger battalion and dog co. at pointe du hoc, they were outnumbered by the germans on top of the point in the power attack. this was the scene in immortalized in president reagan's speech, the voice of
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pointe du hoc, they got out of their landing craft, some -- the main character of my book, landed in a shell hole and went under water completely, completely submerged under water, a massive shell hole created by the battleship texas, swam his way out and started to climb the slippery road, that hit them, many of the grapnels didn't work when they tried to fire them, and germans on top of the cliff, the least of their problems and started firing down on these rangers with angie 42 machine guns, fired at a rate of 15,000 rounds a minute. the first book that has the german side of pointe du hoc. these german machine gunners topped the cliff, changed their
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barrels because the mg 42s were so hot they were working. they fired a round that the rangers, many in "dog company" were hit. longworth house office building the men in "dog company," 27 would be killed d-day the next couple days. as they climbed the cliff the germans were throwing potato masher grenades, then the cliff was rained with ids in today's pollens, they told french shells and suspended them on wires around cliffs. the men then climbed up. the climb was indeed an artist part. on top of the cliff was practically a guns of navarrone situation. the place was a fortress. there were tunnels everywhere, bunkers, minefields, barbed wire. these men had to fight through that. the main character of my book was shot through the spine with a machine gun bullet as he climbed to the top of the cliff. got to the top, took out the
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machine gun bunker and made go forward. everyone of these rangers had an objective. there were six guns at pointe du hoc. the longest day accurately depicts the guns weren't there. the reality is they were towed 800 yards in land in an apple orchard. the main guns were not in the cattle positions that were fortified. there were telephone polls but they were towed in land. he fought his way through with a smaller group and the symbol men, the largest group of men on top of pointe du hoc and found some tire tracks and moved inland. these men had trained for six months prior to d-day, some of the greatest, most trained men of the invasion. they trained for six months scaling clefs without safety harnesses. cliffs that were 300 feet high with full equipment and gas
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masks, grenades, the whole nine yards, they scaled those cliffs and did that six months. officers and more combat simulation, they fired over their heads as they climbed the cliff for six months. these men were ready. as lavelle got to the top he sought higher tracks, on an old french road and started to pursue what he saw as tracks, he thought maybe those with the guns. he walked down this country road. there were germans all over the place, patrols and everything else. they avoided them. miraculously they split up into groups. they were in a firefight, split and to groups and they found the guns. i will never forget the expression he said to me, oh my god, there they are. he looked up and he saw five of the guns that were ready to go.
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they were positioned to fire upon utah beach. most of the rangers were equipped with a fair might grenade which could burn at a very high temperature, over a thousand degrees, and melt metal parts. they pulled out the grenades and and they welded each one of the gun parts, the moving parts of the guns solid so they couldn't be used. lanelle took his thompson submachine gun and smashed the sights on all the guns so they couldn't be used. meanwhile what is most amazing is literally no more than a hundred yards from here, 120 germans were assembling, ready to go on the guns, somehow miraculously they were able to destroy the guns before those men were there. this was a story told to me by
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lanelle, documented at the national archives, a lot of oral histories i found, a number of oral histories were in the wrong box, taken two months after the advance by a legendary historian. but that is not the end of the story. dog co. is about the whole war from pointe du hoc through germany where they leave patton's army. we go from there. what is next is part of the story i didn't even really know about until i started researching it. cheese men then accomplish their secondary objective which was to set up a roadblock which was to cut the road that connected omaha beach and utah beach. it ran across the top of pointe du hoc. they setup an l shaped line and for the next two days the
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germans counterattacked berlin, and higher platoon was taken out by the germans they captured. they broke through part of the line. only "dog company" held in a small hedge road a, severed the road, when the germans couldn't reenforce from one beach to the other, this was a very close thing. one of the men that was attached to the second ranger battalion was colonel trevor, the no. one commander who fought for north africa, one of the most poignant savings he had was i have never come so close to being either killed or captured. he was convinced that that was going to happen because the germans were relentlessly counterattacking. from pointe du hoc the men of "dog company" held. they then fought for the rest of
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europe and as they fought through europe, the next place was a place called brest . there was a coastal fort, a major fortification. they needed to resupply their forces, they needed the harbor but the only problem was there was another gun position and like pointe du hoc it was a suicide mission. something called the locust battery --locris battery. it had massive battleship's size guns that were buried, most of the fortress was buried undergrou underground. picture a four story building, fortress that had been buried underground. there were elevator's going down this thing, an entire hospital, mess hall, everything. to the naked eye you look across
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a farmer's field and all you see is a tiny pillbox. that was being locris and battery. 4 months of men of "dog company" and second ranger battalion tried to find that battery. that was their objective. the guns were devastating. they fought in a place called hill 63 and the men described to me how the shells came over like freight trains. the shells could destroy an entire hedgerow. small mound of earth could bury men alive and that is exactly what happened. they fought for several weeks in this place and what is amazing is a small team of four men led by lt. bob edlund, they were known as the fabulous four. the fabulous four found a bunker
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in the locris battery that had been worn out. it looks like it had been utilized. the entire locris battery was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of mines and barbed wire machine gun nuts, pillboxes, extremely heavily fortified but they found a well-worn path and decided to go down it. they went down the path, they found a small pillbox, they broke through the door, they captured all men in the pillbox. remarkably a lieutenant was educated in the united states and he said basically i am ready to surrender. lieutenant edlund said to him to the commander of the fort -- take me to the commander of the fort and that is what he did. with his tiny gun and a fabulous four when trudy locris battery, down an elevator, through an
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amphitheater that looked like a football field and they went into the depths of this guns and -- guns of navarrone type situation and went to the commanding officer's office. edlund decided to break through the board. at that point of the commanding officer looked at him and said what do you want? he said we would like you to surrender the fort. the commanding officer was incredulous. you are only four men. he picked up the steel telephone. you are my prisoner. at that point robert edlund proudly had one of the greatest moves of world war ii. he pulled out a hand grenade and put it between his legs and said you are going to surrender the locris battery. 800 men from the locris battery surrendered after he broadcast that over the loudspeaker.
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incredible story of world war ii it is completely documented in the national archives. for his efforts robert edlund received the bronze star. colonel rider put him in for the medal of honor. eventually receive this the distinguished service cross for the action. it is typical of many of the rangers out there, never been our ranger of world war ii receive the medal of honor. after the brest campaign the men moved in boxcars, take 40 men or eight horses. they moved to a place called the fort, the factory of death. a six months campaign, the longest battle of world war ii never needed to take place. the forest -- the allies were convinced it was going to be an
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assembly area that wasn't neutralized. the allied armies could be attacked on the flanks. the germans recognized the fort as a natural defensive place in, spend several days in the forest pouring it with a german veterans. i have seen every single -- the place was 3 registered. there were bunkers. it was a death trap. there were hundreds and hundreds of thousands of mines on the forest floor, there were conifer trees that blocked the sun light. it was very hard to see at times. "dog company" and the second ranger battalion was placed in the fort as a reserve unit. it was there that they would ask the special operations mission that never took place but all men said something to me, our
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longest day was not d-day. it was december 7, 1944. let me take you now to was the second ranger battalion had as one of their greatest battles. in many ways it is an untold story. a place called bernstein. practically an entire army regiment, tank regiment was tasked with seizing burkestein, it was the farthest penetration into germany. the tank regiments was practically destroyed trying to take burkstein. behind burkstein was hill 400. the only people that were left in reserve was the second ranger battalion in "dog company". after burkstein was seized it became a miniature stalingrad. men -- germans with pander style
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moved around the burn out houses, germans send whatever armor they had, tank destroyers, took out 30 or 40 shermans. it was a very tough battle. one gee i described it if they like to come within 30 minutes we would have lost the town. at that point the second ranger battalion seize the high ground at hill 400. the reason hill 400 is important is because it was a window into hitler's greatest secret of the war at the time which was the battle of the bulge. nine days later on december 16th, hitler would launch the battle of the bulge. the bulge, there was a perfect view on top of hill 400. the germans knew that high
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ground had to be held at all costs in order to proceed. the rangers wanted also because they had very good artillery positions and that morning, on december 7th, they were ordered to clear the rest of burkstein. as they moved out they were in sellars filled with water that was waist deep and they were told that they had to take hill 400. it is an incredible story. as they move through burkstein they moved through a cemetery that was the graves were actually overturn because they had been shelled so many times by allied and german artillery. they moved through that and were being hit by artillery and german artillery and they moved toward the sunken road, the sunken road was overlooking, in front of them, a large open
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field the size of a football field. looming in front of them was hill 400. somehow they had to get across the field to see the hill. this is one of the most incredible stories of the war and one of the few times there was a bayonet charge. the men behind the sunken road were preparing to assault hill 400 and as they were doing that, german artillery was falling behind them, large amounts of artillery, mortars, everything else. in front of them was our artillery. the two fields of artillery were converging and they were getting closer and closer to the rangers behind the sunken road and they were about to be turned. at that point, a very odd for thing happened.
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one of the ranger officers said send out a scout, obviously full it. every ranger that was in combat and knew that there was no point to that. a man was going to die. they said don't do it. don't do it. the officer said send out the scout. it is an order. the man said send out the scout. don't let him go. they tried to hold the man back and he followed his orders and went across the field and was shot in the stomach. 30 seconds before the charge was supposed to take place, the men got up, one of the men took his machine gun and said let's get a bastard. they charge across the field and yelled and the rebel yell right out of the civil war. one of the rangers said it was
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one of the most glorious moments to be a ranger as they charge across the field, it was the perfect time. the artillery was falling on the german president rather than the field or the sunken road. it was the perfect window of opportunity. e -- stacy's the poll box in front of 400 and went up the hill and what happens next is unbelievable. with hardly any men they started with 120 men. they lost many men in the charge going through burkstein and ran up the hill. it was german veterans actually. they ran up the hill and took a poll box that was on top of the hill which was the main center of gravity for the hill because it offered protection. the protection offered is from
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the artillery. as lanelle said to me, picture a rain storm but instead of raindrops it was shrapnel, 18 battalions of german artillery rained down on that hill, it was killing germans and americans alike. it became unbearable. top of that, within half an hour, 45 minutes, the germans according to their doctrine began to counterattack. they did it with company's ranks or more, sometimes even a battalion. 272, and later they started storming the hill. this happens five times. one of the most poignant scenes is from s c corps which was a foxhole secured by a rock. as they charge up the hill they
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were about to overrun the rangers on top near the pillbox. there were several german bodies in front of their foxholes. almost a scene out of the movie where eagles dare. he picked up two mg 42 machine pistols and with both hands fired into the oncoming germans and stopped the entire attack. that is not an anecdote that was given to me in an oral history. that was in the official after action report and later confirmed by six or seven other rangers that were right next to him. that is the kind of courage these men had. things got so dicey that lanelle consider evaluating the hill. they were ordered to hold at all costs even though reinforcements were not coming and that is
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exactly what they did for two days. the men held hill 400 against all odds, against every one of these german assaults and somehow held the it. remarkably, on the eighth of december they left the hill and it remained in allied hands. there was intelligence reported back about german troop movements only ten or 12 miles away but none of that information never got to the right place. the dots were never connected and on december 16th the battle of the bulge took place to the surprise of all allies. from there "dog company" co. 68 men, reduced about 20 men. there was hardly anyone left but they continued to fight on, replacements came in here and they're bringing us back up, but they fought through the rest of
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germany and it was here, they acted as a reconnaissance force for general patton and his armies as they pushed through, they crossed the rhine river and pushed deeper and deeper into germany eventually ending in czechoslovakia. one ranger said to me they asked the ranger, sidney solomon who was a good friend of mine, did you just land on d-day? no. it was a very loan -- long walk from germany to czechoslovakia. that is what he's planted did. thank you very much. i will take your questions.
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[applause] >> is there any -- >> several men, those stories in headquarters company encountered camps. and they talked about seeing him in skeletons inside the camp, it crystallized everything they were fighting for, they saw firsthand what the third reich had done to people and realized it became very self-evident what this whole war was about. yes, sir? [inaudible question] >> what are the more compelling stories it it you experienced it as a result of your research and the work you have done?
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>> an honor to have you here, congressman. one that comes to mind, literally a couple days ago, a veteran of -- i have interviewed almost 500 world war ii veterans. mr julie is a story that was exceptional. dropped into occupied french in 1944, hit his radio in a box of green beans on a train occupied by the gestapo and set up a safe house in france, then they transmitted the most important intelligence for the 164 sx 6 team on troop movements, oil refineries, airstrikes. and was also able to rescue
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hundreds of downed airmen. three months ago i got a call that renee had passed away. i interviewed mr. joyeux he -- his wife was kind enough to give me some quiche and it was an incredible interview as he brought me back in time. his son told me something very striking. that arlington had denied their request for burial. at the time of the war he was a french citizen even though general eisenhower had personally given him the distinguished service cross. you was in american uniform, after the war he became an american citizen as well as a world-renowned heart doctor, had an incredible things for america. to make a long story short,
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general david petraeus got back to me, and for the next few months, general david petraeus, people had gone in and worked, the letters had been written, to create a justification, three days ago, mr. joyeux will be laid to rest in arlington. [applause] >> did "dog company" receive proper recognition? >> i am pleased that many of the family and people that i know very personally are here. you are a member of goerge co.
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31 in and chosen reservoir. part of the book i wrote, you were a machine gunner and it is an honor to have you here. like george company for the most part, dog company hasn't received as much recognition as they deserve. they received a presidential unit citation for their actions at pointe du hoc but hill 400 remains an open issue. they deserve the presidential unit citation for that action. a charge that hill and held it against all odds. the last letter to tom laggerio was to get the presidential unit citation for "dog company" and that is now in progress. out of all the units in the european theater of operations, this is one that needs to be looked at again. "dog company"'s actions
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definitely merit presidential citation and hopefully with a little bit of luck we will get the powers that be to look at it again. >> why did it take so long? >> like everything -- i don't know├ž
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honor that they deserve. the command and officer of "dog company" has the demeanor of lee marvin from the dirty dozen. capt. slater. the other characters are also very memorable. for instance, tom reggario, one of the only five men from "dog company" who are still alive. his nickname before the war was tommy knight because he was a tap cancer, professional tap dancer who was 5 foot 3 and tommy knight was able to burn up the dance floor all across the united states but his claim to fame, he was a great sniper for "dog company" and one of the
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funniest men i ever met and agreed interviewer but during the war he was an incredible person and remains larger than life. another individual in the book that i love because he sort of captures the humanity of war, feelings and emotions of the war and one of the great rangers of the book, william hl the book, william h rod petty. he was always, quote, a pain in the ass, challenged the authority and waddled like a duck because he broke both legs in a parachute training operation and lost both front teeth. he was initially disqualified for not having his teeth, being sort of the instigator, the
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person that didn't want to buck authority. he was not going to take no for an answer. so he wrote to colonel rider and said i want to be a ranger. what is the deal? you don't have your front teeth. he is like i am not here to bite the germans, i am here to fight the germans! all right, fine, you are in and he became one of the great ranges of "dog company". he killed faherty germans on d-day, desperate rearguard he held with his d a r but heroic aside, really captured the feeling and emotions of "dog company" like no other ranger i ever interviewed. that is sort of the theme that runs through many of my books, sort of the hidden war, their feelings and emotions and he definitely captured that.
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yes? >> what has been the response from the families when they heard you were writing this? >> the response has been overwhelmingly positive. that for me is the greatest thing anybody could ever say. in some cases they said the book repay -- provided closure. we were one for instance, that is the greatest compliment, provided a little bit of closure to the families of veterans of the died or never talked about war. it is one of the reasons i have done the things i have done. for the last 20 years this day marks 20 years that i have been
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gathering the oral histories of america's combat veterans from world war i through the current conflicts in afghanistan. for me when people said to me that what i have done provided some level of closure in some small way is the greatest compliment anybody could give me. >> the battle for hold 400 was the highest casualty rate for "dog company"? >> the highest casualty rate was probably at pointe du hoc. there's a picture in the book of a hand written book by lanelle of the number of killed and wounded "dog company" and every single one of the men, every single one with the exception of a few, they were all winded and there were 27 men that were killed from june 6th through
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june 8th in d-day. >> follow-up question. what were -- [inaudible] >> they inflicted a number of casualties. primary -- besides the guns, pointe du hoc siphoned off hundreds of troops that could have been deployed to omaha beach. these men killed many many germans that could have been manning machine gun positions on omaha beach. who knows what could happen to those hundreds of men had been deployed at a omaha beach versus pointe du hoc. >> i know what i will be reading this veterans day weekend. i want to get my copy signed. thank you for being here. thank you so much. >> thank you. [applause] >> for more information visit
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the author's web site, patrick o' >> at the national press club author night, we are here with celia wexler, "out of the news," your a former journalist, why? >> why am i a former journalist? i could not become the mother i wanted to as a small child could and did the journalism i wanted to do and i found a wonderful and fulfilling career as a lobbyist but i always was emotionally attached to journalism and this book gave me a chance to connect with people, many of whom left journalism at the top of their game with some of the biggest media outlets in the country. i was able to explore with them their feelings about the profession and this is m


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